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Thread: Anyone have experience with Photoshop CS5 Abode and Pixinsight?

  1. #1
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    Anyone have experience with Photoshop CS5 Abode and Pixinsight?

    The 20 November, 2019 APOD features Arp 273 (link). It's a stunning composite created from Hubble data.

    It gives credit to Rudy Pohl; here is the page describing it. The software is described as "Software: Pixinsight 1.8, Photoshop CS5".

    I think both are commercial (i.e. no free versions, except for trials). The result is - obviously - quite stunning. It reminds me of some results I've seen using STIFF; unfortunately, while STIFF is free, I have been unable to install it.

    Anyone with experiences they could share?

  2. #2
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    I have used Photoshop and have some knowledge about Pixinsight which I researched but I never used because at the time I thought it was too expensive (now it is a bit cheaper 230 Euros + VAT if that applies). Photoshop is THE photo editing program among professional photo editors and common among advanced home photo editors as well. Pixinsight is probably (here there are other commonly used alternatives) the equivalent when it comes to astro-photography with powerful and high tweakable tools to do both common calibration tasks like image registration and color calibration as well as more photo editing like task like running deconvolution algorithms and eliminating gradients.

    Pixinsight is a very impressive tool, just look at any of the tutorials for instance this plate solving tutorial or on of the video tutorials. Likewise there is probably nothing Photoshop can't handle when it comes to pure photo editing. A consequence however is that learning either program (realistically - the parts of the programs you want to use) takes a long time and to know what to do to get a good result you also need to master astrophoto editing which is one of those "talent and 10000 hours of practice/study" things. In the end the reason the image looks impressive is not the tools but the quality of data (in this case Hubble data) and the skill of the person wielding them.

    I'm not trying to scare you away from astrophoto but I think that it is good to know that it is not an easy hobby (and if you want to take you own images, expensive, requires a dark location and you'll swear a lot at the full moon and the weather), fortunately the steps along the the road can be very rewarding even if the results may be lackluster at first.

    During my first evening of deep sky astrophoto I attempted M51 with this result
    m51.jpg
    About four years later (this time with a group of friends from our local astronomy club) with much more skill, a better camera and a much larger telescope this was the result (going for a more "natural" look compared to the APOD you posted which is very heavily processed)
    m51_201204014mjlhph.jpg
    Even though the first image is really bad I was probably more excited about that one (but prouder about the second one).
    Last edited by glappkaeft; 2019-Nov-23 at 06:01 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks very much.

    The second M51 image is very impressive; I particularly like how much of the faint/low surface brightness features are made visible.

    I'm not looking to get into astrophotography (as a long time subscriber to Sky&Telescope, I think I have an appreciation for how steep the learning curve is); rather make stunning visual images from Hubble data. So I know about FITS and DS9 (for all its abysmally poor user guide), and have even written Python code to process (some) FITS. And so some of the big challenges to astrophotographers aren't, to me ... e.g. registration, orientation, and plate scale (if a FITS file is not corrupt or badly created, the header has all you need). Instead, how to remove cosmic ray hits?

    I've always been intimidated by Photoshop, and haven't had much success using/learning GIMP. And these days I find the choices from Adobe confusing, and am reluctant to pay a monthly fee.

    You may have heard that, with Bill Keel's leadership, some citizen scientists got time on the Hubble (ZooGems, and Radio GalaxyZooGems). Here is a link to one object already imaged (UGC 1797), and some images produced from the Hubble, FIRST, and VLASS data.

    One of the things I'd like to do is take color information from lower resolution images (say from SDSS or DECaLS) and overlay it on the much higher resolution Hubble image/data. Writing code to do that should be fairly straight-forward, but tweaking the resulting image really needs something like STIFF or Pixinsight, I feel.

  4. #4
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    I suspect at some point you'll probably want to have Photoshop or something else that does layers, high bit depth and can do more selective photo editing but your idea sounds like a fun project. One reason for that suspicion is my own experiance but also that pretty much all the tutorials for working on Hubble data use Photoshop exclusively and much of the stuff you'd usually use Pixinsight for is either not applicable or has been done already by NASA.

    Some examples:
    https://photographingspace.com/hubble-2-data/
    https://www.spacetelescope.org/proje...or/stepbystep/
    http://www.remote-astrophotography.c...bbleImage.html
    https://www.wikihow.com/Process-Your...om-Hubble-Data

    Exactly what needs to be done and what tools you need depends on how much preprocessing has been done on the data. The Hubble archive site rates this on a scale from 1 (single exposures with gaps, cosmic ray strikes, etc) to 5 (community supplied processed image).

    https://hla.stsci.edu/hla_faq.html

    It might be interesting to look at that Arp 273 data for comparison.


    Have you looked at IRIS (http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/iris-software.html). It is free and has some interesting tools (I have used it a little bit for photometry) similar to Pixinsight.

  5. #5
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    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by glappkaeft View Post
    I suspect at some point you'll probably want to have Photoshop or something else that does layers, high bit depth and can do more selective photo editing but your idea sounds like a fun project.
    Yes, that's more or less the realization I came to, several years' ago now.

    One reason for that suspicion is my own experiance but also that pretty much all the tutorials for working on Hubble data use Photoshop exclusively and much of the stuff you'd usually use Pixinsight for is either not applicable or has been done already by NASA.

    Some examples:
    https://photographingspace.com/hubble-2-data/
    https://www.spacetelescope.org/proje...or/stepbystep/
    http://www.remote-astrophotography.c...bbleImage.html
    https://www.wikihow.com/Process-Your...om-Hubble-Data
    Indeed.

    Hubble data is (always?) available in FITS format. Which is great, as nothing is lost (the full bit-depth is assured), and you can nearly always get a drizzled or otherwise cleaned FITS that retains the full scientific value.

    In principle, anything in a single astronomical image (i.e. no layers etc) which Photoshop (etc) can display, you can create yourself ... but "in principle" != easy, or straight-forward, or ...

    Exactly what needs to be done and what tools you need depends on how much preprocessing has been done on the data. The Hubble archive site rates this on a scale from 1 (single exposures with gaps, cosmic ray strikes, etc) to 5 (community supplied processed image).

    https://hla.stsci.edu/hla_faq.html

    It might be interesting to look at that Arp 273 data for comparison.
    Yes. I had considered doing something like that myself, but haven't yet gotten around to it.

    Have you looked at IRIS (http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/iris-software.html). It is free and has some interesting tools (I have used it a little bit for photometry) similar to Pixinsight.
    Thanks for the reminder!

    I learned of IRIS a long time ago, but had forgotten until you reminded me ...

  6. #6
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    (Doing this in public rather than privately for onlookers)

    Very few professional astronomers do things in Photoshop, largely because of the cost and the widespread perception of how easy it is to use in adding what's not there.

    Antiquated as IRAF is, I'd interpolate across cosmic-ray residuals using its imedit task. I have been known to add color by registering images with wregister, and using image arithmetic to generate appropriate arrays of flux ratio. This then needs masking with imcalc to avoid wild pixels near the sky level. (Hey, where's everybody going?)

    I looked into Iris some years ago as a way to get students into CCD processing, but we had problems with installing on campus machines because (at the time, at least) it wanted access to parts of the Windows file systems that were security problems in a public environment.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean Tate View Post

    I've always been intimidated by Photoshop, and haven't had much success using/learning GIMP.
    I think that GIMP and Photoshop are probably about equally intimidating. I use GIMP basically because of the better cost performance, and it takes some getting used to but it's pretty powerful.
    As above, so below

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